‘More than half a million for players’

‘More than half a million for players’
Joy among players and fans of SV Spakenburg

NOS Football

‘The amateurs of Spakenburg will play PSV in the semi-finals of the KNVB Cup’. In fact this sentence is correct, in practice the word ‘amateurs’ doesn’t quite cover it.

“It may eventually happen that our budget for the first team will exceed one million euros. But this, I think, is not yet the case,” said Spakenburg chairman Marc Schoonebeek.

The latter is confirmed by treasurer Ewout Ruitenberg. According to him, the amount spent on the wages of players and staff is now between five tons and a million. “If you want to join the top of the second division in the long run, you have to go towards the million,” he said.

The exact budget the gentlemen do not want to reveal. Partly because of this, the financial paths surrounding a first team of a (top) amateur soccer club remain unfathomable to an outsider. The reason for Schoonebeek’s caution is that every concrete amount he mentions “provokes everything.”

“Every number I call out could be different next year. There is progressive growth in it. We are among the top eight of all clubs in the second division in terms of finances,” the chairman let slip. What exactly a player or the coach earns, he won’t say. “That is salary information.” And therefore private.

Skyboxes and budget of 2.5 million

A visit to the “blue” side of sports park De Westmaat, where SV Spakenburg is housed, reveals that there is plenty of money at hand. Advertising signs are ubiquitous and the stands have real skyboxes. SV Spakenburg was the first amateur club to occupy skyboxes in 2003.

The main stand of SV Spakenburg

According to Schoonebeek, the club has more than three hundred sponsors of “national and international stature” from all over the country. Money from sponsorships, hospitality revenue and dues from the more than 1,800 members ensure that the club has a budget of about 2.5 million euros, according to the president.

This includes income from the KNVB cup, Ruitenberg nuances. “We actually just budgeted 2 million euros.”

By the way, the dues paid are not used for the first team, says the treasurer. The first team’s finances are housed in a special foundation. The monies for this first team are raised by the beers and meatballs sold at matches, but mainly by sponsors.

No shadowy constructions

So exactly what money flows where is unclear. Chairman Schoonebeek does not want to speak of “shadowy” constructions. “We are bound by rules of the KNVB and have to submit our accounts every year.”

Hugo Bol, who is a member of Spakenburg’s technical committee and negotiates with players, says that the first team consists only of contract players. So everything is paid through the “white way,” according to the decision makers.

This contradicts stories of fiddling with travel expenses and negotiated deals between players and sponsors that are doing the rounds about clubs in the second division. “You don’t think that as the financial man of a reputable company I am going to run around messing around with envelopes of cash, do you?” said treasurer Ruitenberg.

Tumult at the derby between Spakenburg and IJsselmeervogels (November 2022)

Case manager Mario Majstorovic, who regularly sits at the table with second division clubs and emphatically says he does not know Spakenburg’s exact practices, agrees with Ruitenberg’s words. “The KNVB has been regulating for some time. I see that in recent years there is little more black money being paid in the highest amateur divisions.”

Schoonebeek, Bol and Ruitenberg also keep quiet about other (legal) constructions, such as the installation of a kitchen at a player’s home by a sponsor, for example. Bol does say that at SV Spakenburg it is relatively unusual for players to get a job with a sponsor, even though it does happen at some clubs.

Bol is also willing to say that players get a “nice reward” for playing soccer at his club. So the exact form of the reward is not mentioned. It is a fact that Spakenburg has several former professional soccer players in its ranks.

Differences in salary are large

Majstorovic says the differences between the earnings of different players are very large. “From nothing at all to tens of thousands of euros a year. The amount also depends on the agreed premiums. For example, some players get money per point or match. Especially strikers and players who have played in professional soccer get more.”

This agrees with Berry Powel, who played for fellow villager and SV Spakenburg rival IJsselmeervogels between January 2017 and June 2018. “Footballers with a long track record deserve a lot more. It is therefore nice for former professional footballers to play in the second division. You can earn a nice amount of money in addition to your work, because you often train only three times a week.”

Spakenburg coach Chris de Graaf

The former striker, who played several season in the premier league, also does not want to mention his gage from his IJsselmeervogels era.

While player rewards remain unclear, an old arbitration case does give an estimate of the amount Spakenburg’s head coach receives. Hans van de Haar was fired by the club in 2017 and was given three months’ salary thanks to the case. The judge valued this amount at six thousand euros gross per month.

Whether current coach Chris de Graaf will also get this amount deposited into his account remains to be seen. Schoonebeek says that a factor is that De Graaf comes from Spakenburg itself, which makes it plausible that he gets less than a trainer who comes from outside the village. But the chairman also won’t comment on the coach’s fee.

Close-knit and enterprising village

Treasurer Ruitenberg has an explanation for the capital strength at Spakenburg clubs. “We are a close-knit and enterprising village, so there are many companies that commit themselves to the club. You also see this at other traditional Saturday clubs such as Katwijk, Quick Boys, Rijnsburgse Boys and HHC Hardenberg. It works very differently here than at clubs that depend on one lender.”

So Spakenburg’s players, some of whom also have access to a leased car, are in a professional environment. Nevertheless, Schoonebeek wants to make a side note. “Our guys do earn a lot less than PSV’s players,” he says.

Kayleigh Williams